97-04’: The Lost Era

GatorAZ

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Summer of 96’ Barkley demands trade and gets it:
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The following season after an 0-8 start Cotton Fitzsimmons retires and Danny Ainge takes over. The day after Christmas the Suns pull a blockbuster trading Michael Finley and fillers for Jason Kidd:
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Later in the year the Suns dump Robert Horry for the aging and familiar Cedric Ceballos. A move probably applauded by Suns fans at the time:
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Eventually Jason Kidd and the aging Kevin Johnson share PG duties, barely making the playoffs before getting beat by Seattle in 5 games (at least FA signing Rex Chapman gave us the shot)
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In the off-season leading up to the 98’ season the Suns pull off a blockbuster trading three 1st rd picks to Denver for Antonio McDyess.
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Despite and 56 wins and good chemistry between Kidd/McDyess the Suns go down in 4 games to the Duncan/Robinson Spurs (somehow Dennis Scott played playoff minutes for the Suns that year).
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The following off-season the Suns not only get McDyess stolen away by Denver but trade Steve Nash to Dallas for their first rd pick (later became Shawn Marion).
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Right before the lockout shortened 99’ season the Suns, for some reason, choose to assemble the stiffest frontcourt since the 1950’s pairing together Tom Gugliotta and Luc Longley (a first rd pick for Luc Longley? Oof:
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Gugliotta, considered the best of the free agents still uncommitted, reportedly was en route to Phoenix on Saturday. He is expected to sign a six-year contract worth about $60 million.
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A poorly fitting team of stiffs surrounded by the explosive Kidd go 27-23 eventually getting swept by Portland in the 1st rd:
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The summer of 1999 was a crazy one for the Suns. They draft Shawn Marion #9 overall and sign FA Rodney Rodgers. Then before the season they pull off the blockbuster for Penny Hardaway, trading two 1st rd picks and giving him 7 years, $87m in which Jerry Colangelo and Danny Ainge were quite excited about:
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Orlando’s GM sounded pretty honesr about the deal:
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Ainge’s excitement didn’t last as he quit about 3 weeks into the season and was replaced by assistant Scott Skiles. The Suns play pretty well and Penny actually is healthy for most of the year. They beat a Duncan-less Spurs in the first rd then get pummeled by the soon-to-be-dynasty Lakers (Shaq averaged 30/16 and young Kobe closed out a close game 2:
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The following off-season was a quiet one without assets or cap space. KJ would retire (for good this time) and the Suns would blow a first rd pick on Jake Tsakalidis. The Tony Delk and Mario Elie FA signings, as well as the deadline acquisition of Vinny Del Negro didn’t move the needle as the Suns would once again be good enough to make the playoffs but not be a threat. At least they didn’t get swept by the White Chocolate Kings:
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The next off-season/season was one of transition but led to future success in the upcoming years:
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Colangelo got rid of the slap-happy Jason Kidd in an all time disgruntled PG for disgruntled PG swap:
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Then thankfully got their 02’ pick back from Orlando in one of the greatest nothing for something trades in franchise history:
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Followed by taking advantage of the short-sided thinking Celtics (Bill Simmons still complains about it). Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk for Joe Johnson (already reached the attachment limit). As well as a first rd pick that became Casey Jacobson.
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After a transition year of exciting Starbury and rookie Amare, Brian Colangelo conned Isiah Thomas into taking on the contracts of Penny Hardaway and Stephon Marbury leading to cap space in order to sign Steve Nash and Quentin Richardson. At least the 2nd most forgettable 6-7 year run in franchise history led to something good.
 

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Phrazbit

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I was in high school and college during this era, it was revolting how many Laker "fans" there suddenly were everywhere in Phoenix.
 

Covert Rain

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Anybody that sees that era can't deny the Suns were not shy about making moves risky or not. It just might be a skewed perception but if feels like since this era the Suns have been more reserved.
 
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